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Education and Outreach: November 2009


Astrobiology Teachers Academy

NAI's New York Center for Astrobiology held its first Teachers Academy at RPI on July 13-16, 2009. Nine high school science teachers from four local school districts collaborated with six NAI scientists to learn about topics in astrobiology. The participants represent disciplines across the sciences: biology, chemistry, earth science, forensic science, and physics. The goal of the Academy was to develop a learning module infused with astrobiology and aligned with New York State standards and NASA Astrobiology Science Goals. The teachers used science lectures, existing astrobiology curriculum materials, and consistent interaction with the scientists to develop their learning modules, which ranged in topic from the physiochemical limits to sustainable life, to colors of photosynthetic organisms on exoplanets, to nucleosynthesis of biologically-relevant elements. The teachers are implementing their modules in their classrooms this school year, and the Academy will be featured at the annual regional meeting of the Science Teachers Association of New York State in March, 2010. [Source: NAI Newsletter]

This summer, sixteen teachers from around the world convened with NAI's team at Montana State University for a week-long class called "Examining Life in Extreme Environments: Insights into Early Earth and Beyond." Students in the course gained an understanding of the relation of extreme environments to early Earth, learned about the latest research conducted in these areas, and worked on how to teach and discuss these topics within their own classrooms.

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Postdoctoral Scholars Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) invites applicants to apply for two postdoctoral research positions at JPL in the Planetary Science Section of the Science Division. Each opportunity is supported by a NASA grant to two separate, small, collaborative teams. The successful candidates, while having their own projects, will be expected to work with team members in other institutions.

NASA announces a call for graduate fellowship proposals to the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) program for the 2010-2011 academic year. This call for fellowship proposals solicits applications from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of individuals pursuing Master of Science (M.Sc.) or Doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees in Earth and space sciences, or related disciplines. The purpose of NESSF is to ensure continued training of a highly qualified workforce in disciplines needed to achieve NASA's scientific goals. Awards resulting from the competitive selection will be made in the form of training grants to the respective universities.

The deadline for NEW applications is February 1, 2010, and the deadline for RENEWAL applications is March 15, 2010.

Taellberg, Sweden - June 14-18, 2010: In 2010, AbGradCon, the foremost astrobiology meeting for early-career researchers, will be held in Europe for the first time in its history. Graduate students and early-career postdocs from all over the world will come together to present their research in a comfortable environment, to learn of the latest developments in astrobiology, to network and to forge new collaborations. The meeting will comprise oral and poster presentations, half-day workshops and a one-day field trip to geologically instructive sites in the astrobiologically interesting Siljan impact crater. Attendees are encouraged from the very wide range of subjects pertinent to astrobiology. Financial assistance will be available to invited attendees. Further information is available at the conference website: http://www.abgradcon2010.org [Source: NAI Newsletter]